Saturday, July 20, 2013

HHS Admits: You Might Not Be Able to Keep Your Doctor Under Obamacare

    As the Affordable Care Act was pushed through Congress in 2010, the Obama administration and its allies were unequivocal in two claims about Obamacare: If you like your doctor and you like your current plan, you can keep them.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed the president fully in this regard.  The White House went so far as to post a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check on its website where "Linda Douglass of the White House Office of Health Reform debunks the myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors."  President Obama upped the ante, putting the promise in the form of a "guarantee":

THE PRESIDENT: Here is a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor. Nobody is trying to change what works in the system. We are trying to change what doesn't work in the system.
    While there has been sniping back and forth between the administration and its detractors about the real-world application of the Affordable Care Act since its passage, the new Healthcare.gov website has taken some of the mystery out of the controversy.  And President Obama and his administration do not fare well in this latest "reality check".  Among the questions that HHS recently added to the website: "Can I keep my own doctor?":

    "Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor."  The bottom line is that Obamacare guarantees neither. Doctors may be only available through certain networks, just as in the current system.  And only plans that existed in their current form on March 23, 2010, are even eligible to be "kept." The vast majority of plans will be new, subject to a raft of new regulations, requirements, and restrictions.
    Now that Health and Human Services has confirmed that the suspicions of Obamacare opponents were justified, the Obama administration will have some explaining to do to friends and foes of the law alike. Because now everyone is finding out "what's in it."

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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